Each week, I respond to a question submitted by a reader. Today, the question is from a leader who understands the power of community within a team. The issue is how to make the concept of community a reality on a large and diverse team. The challenge is real and formidable.
Because I’ve written about how to build community before, I don’t want to repeat myself. Here's a link to my previous post. However, I do want to point out a couple of things based on the question.
First, congratulations if you have a diverse team! The best teams have diversity - the more diversity the better. Just to be clear, I’m not referring only to racial and gender diversity – although that’s always an asset. I’m talking about TRUE diversity: Diversity of thought, of background, of personality, of training, experience, education, skill set and passion. These are the ingredients to create a remarkable team.
The more homogeneous a team is, the harder to create something great. I’ve written about this before as well. A team without diversity is like a baseball team with nine second basemen. If you’ve got real diversity, you should be thankful. You may have the raw talent necessary to become a high performance team.
The other observation I’ll make is based on the part of the question that references a “large” team. Here’s my caution: the larger the team, the harder it is to build deep and genuine community. Shallow levels of community are easily obtained in a large group, but the level of community required to turbo-charge performance is most often found in small groups.
What’s the magic size to maximize community? Hard to say… Research on group dynamics indicates optimal performance in groups from 5 – 10. I’ve seen genuine community in groups outside these norms. It is possible - it’s just much harder to cultivate. If you're trying to create community with 15, 20, or more people, consider breaking them down into smaller sub-teams.
So, in summary, be thankful for a diverse team; be careful about letting the group get too big; and the principles outlined in my previous post still work. I’ll close by referencing only one of those principles here:
Be Intentional. If community is part of your strategy to create high performance, give it the same focused attention you would any other part of your plan.
Teams don’t drift into deep, genuine community. They must be led there.[GLS_Shield]
What are some of the activities your team has discovered to cultivate Community?